“Chances are your strengths are stronger and your weaknesses weaker than you realize. You need help. You are also precisely the help someone else needs” -Power of 2
The most impactful science experiment I have ever witnessed was in my 8th grade biology class. Our teacher had us take a plain index card and draw a dot on it. Then, keeping the index card eye level, we were instructed to slowly move the card through our peripheral vision. At one point, we were staring at a blank index card. The dot had disappeared.
It was in our blind spot.
Our teacher explained how our mind tricked us into believing the blind spot was not there. It fills in the spot with the surrounding image, she said. (Hence why the card looked blank-our mind was compensating for the part of the card it could not see, by filling it with what the surrounding area our blind spot looked like-a white blank index card).
If our mind can trick us into denial over a physical blind spot, it’s no wonder we are often so clueless about our blind spots in areas of leadership, skill, and talent.
So how do we identify our own blind spots?
It’s actually rather simple.
Others can see what we cannot.
Just as a different vantage point, say passenger seat or backseat of your car, would render another able to see the oncoming car rapidly approaching in your own physical blind spot, other people can see the parts of our personalities and tendencies that we cannot.
There are many ways to invite others into your life, to aid you in covering your bind spots, but my personal favorite is what Gallup calls, a Powerful Partnership.
Which means you purposefully pair up with someone who has complementary strengths to your own.
For me, that partner is none other than LeAnne Lagasse. We not only co-own a business together, but we also operate as a team at the university we teach at. As basic course directors, we are not required to work together, but we have found there are multiple benefits when we do.
For us, the plan to partner happened naturally. We recognized early that we were not both skilled at the same things. I tend to be more of a creative, and she is much more logical (and organized). We are so different that Sean Qureshi of Storyline Collaborative built it into the brain icon of our logo.
Once we teamed up at work, the sky was the limit. We found that if we tackled projects together, each focusing on the tasks that came most natural to us, we could accomplish more and do so in a more efficient and successful manner.
Because our partnership happened so naturally, it was not until years later that we realized how compatible we are, and just how complementary our strengths were.
How do you decide if someone has strengths that complement your own?
The formula is two-fold.
1. You want to identify someone who has dominant or secondary strengths that you lack.
2. You want to identify someone who has some strengths in common with you
This blend makes for a balanced partnership, but also allows its members to easily get on the same page.
For instance, my #1 strength is Ideation. (Which happens to be #34 for LeAnne) and her #3 strength is Discipline which is #32 for me. I love to create, and she loves routine and structure. Put us together and we create innovative programs.
LeAnne also has Deliberative #13 and Consistency #14 high, but they are #32 and #31 for me, respectively. I have Positivity #3 and Restorative as #13, but those are #27 and #32 for LeAnne.
When I partner with LeAnne, my areas of weakness are covered by her strengths. I can depend on her to see what I cannot, the missed opportunities or potential risks that are looming in my blind spots.
However, just as our partnership allows us to manage around our weaknesses, the composite of our common strengths creates a compound more powerful than those strengths are on their own.
Here are four strengths we share:
Achiever (#2 for LeAnne and #6 for me),
Focus (#3 for me and #6 for LeAnne),
Belief (#6 for LeAnne and #12 for me).
Significance (#2 for me and #11 for LeAnne)
These commonalities explain the similarities we have in our work ethic and drive. With the combo of Achiever and Focus, we become pretty determined once we set our minds to a task. Our Belief and Significance combination means that when it comes to our core values, we are both willing to sacrifice in order to leave a lasting legacy.
Just try it out for one project.
Take time before you begin you next major task to identify someone who has complementary strengths to your own. Forge a partnership and take note of how much easier the process flows. Let your new partner identify blind spots for you, and remember to cover their blind spots as well. Their success is yours, and once you realize how much more incredible a partnership is, you will not want to go back to your solo act.
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